Mastering the Art of French Cooking – Volume One
Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck
The French are magnificent with fish. Not only is fresh fish abundant all the year round, but the art of its cooking and saucing is accomplished with great taste and skill.
This chapter includes two fine recipes for scallops, three for lobster, and a group for mussels. But the main emphasis is on the important and typically French method of poaching fillets of fish in white wine and serving them in a wine sauce, starting with the simplest type of sauce and ending with several of the most famous of la grande cuisine. These last, as you will observe, are fish veloutes (flour and butter roux simmered with the fish cooking liquid), which are then enriched with cream and egg yolks. They are all the same basic sauce described in detail on page 60 in the Sauces chapter. Under numerous disguises and with various flavorings, this sauce appears throughout almost every phase of French cookery.
Fish must be fresh smelling and fresh tasting. If it is whole, its eyes are bright and full, not filmed, opaque, and flat. Its gills are bright red, its flesh firm to the touch, its skin fresh and glistening.
Frozen fish should be bought from a dealer who has the proper facilities to store it at a constant temperature of zero degrees, It should be solidly frozen. A block of frozen juices at the bottom of the packet is proof that it has been thawed and refrozen. Before cooking, defrost it in the refrigerator, or under cold running water.
Carrots develop their maximum flavor if they are cooked in a covered saucepan with a small amount of liquid, butter, and seasonings until the liquid has evaporated and the carrots are beginning to saute in the butter.
AMOUNT TO BUY: One pound of carrots minus their tops will serve 3 or 4 people.
PREPARATION FOR COOKING
Trim off the stems and scrape the carrots with a vegetable peeler. Depending on the size and the effect you wish, slice them horizontally, or halve or quarter the lengthwise, then cut the lengths into 2-inch pieces. These pieces may, if you wish, be trimmed into the form of long garlic cloves; in French this is termed tourner en gousses or en olives.
For tough old carrots only: If you happen to have end-of-season carrots, quarter them lengthwise, then cut out and remove the woody central section, and use only the reddish outer portion which French recipes call roughe de carotte. Then before proceeding with any of the following recipes, blanch the carrots by boiling for 5 to 8 minutes in salted water.
Take a look at this short video of my illustration (For added effect, imagine Julia Child say this in her peculiar manner of speaking):